San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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May 3rd, 2012
Stage 2 drought restrictions start Monday


San Marcos will enter Stage 2 drought restrictions effective Monday, May 7 at noon in response to quickly falling levels of the Edwards Aquifer. The aquifer has dropped 19 feet in the last 30 days.

Stage 2 for the San Antonio Pool of the Edwards Aquifer is implemented when the ten day average at the J-17 index well level falls below 650 feet above mean sea level (msl).


Feet the Edwards Aquifer has dropped since April 3


 — Level of the aquifer this morning, in feet above mean sea level


Historical average level of the aquifer in May, in feet above mean sea level

On Thursday, May 3, the daily reading was 647.2 feet above msl, with a ten day average of 649.7 feet. The historical average for May is 666.2 feet.

San Marcos Stage 2 rules restrict use of sprinklers, sprinkler systems, foundation watering, soaker hoses and at-home car washing to limited hours on one designated weekday. Stage 2 also limits watering of golf courses and athletic fields, prohibits filling new swimming pools and outdoor decorative water features, and washing paved surfaces.

“Aquifer levels have very quickly dropped over the past few weeks,” said Tom Taggart, Executive Director of Public Services. “A drop of nearly 20 feet has occurred in that short time. We are seeing daily declines of over 1 foot in level. This requires we rigorously conserve our water to slow the decline and the resulting spring flow decreases.”

San Marcos activated Stage 1 watering restrictions on April 23, 2012 when the level of the  underground pool that serves as a water source for 2 million Texans dropped below 660 feet. The index well level was at 666 feet on April 1, at 657 feet on April 18, and at 647 feet on May 3.

In 2011, San Marcos and the Edwards region were under drought restrictions for most of the year. The City implemented Stage 1 of its Drought Response Plan on April 19, 2011 and Stage 2 on June 3, 2011. Under EAA rules, aquifer users such as municipalities are required to reduce their usage by 30% during Stage 2.

The City of San Marcos receives 80% of its water supply from surface water from Canyon Lake and 20% from the aquifer.

City of San Marcos Stage 2 restrictions include the following:

· Waste of water is prohibited.

· Irrigation with sprinklers and automatic sprinkler irrigation systems is allowed only one day per week on the designated weekday between the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight. The designated weekday is as follows:

◦ Monday for addresses ending in 0 or 1.
◦ Tuesday for addresses ending in 2 or 3.
◦ Wednesday for addresses ending in 4 or 5.
◦ Thursday for addresses ending in 6 or 7.
◦ Friday for addresses ending in 8 or 9.

· Hand watering is allowed on any day and at any time.

· Irrigation with a soaker hose or drip irrigation system is allowed only one day per week on the designated weekday between the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight.

· Irrigation of golf courses and athletic fields with sprinklers is allowed only one day per week on the designated weekday between the hours of midnight to 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight.

· Charity car washes are prohibited except at a certified commercial car wash.

· At-home car washing is allowed only on the designated weekday between the hours of 6  a.m. to 10  a.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight and must be done using a hand-held bucket or hand-held hose equipped with a positive shutoff device.

· Swimming pools located outdoors must have at least 25 percent of the water surface area covered when not in use.

· Filling of new swimming pools is prohibited.

· Operation of outdoor decorative water features is prohibited.

· Washing of impervious surfaces is prohibited unless required for health and safety use.

· Foundation watering is allowed only one day per week on the designated weekday between the hours of midnight to 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight.

· Restaurants are allowed to serve water only upon specific request by the customer.

· All other non-essential water use is prohibited.

Upon written request to the conservation coordinator, customers may designate an alternate watering day, although sprinkling is allowed only one day a week.

Stage 2 rules are available on the City of San Marcos website at For more information please contact Jan Klein, Conservation Coordinator, at 512-393-8310. To report violations, please call the Water Conservation Hotline at 512-393-8360.

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11 thoughts on “Stage 2 drought restrictions start Monday

  1. I hope that with our new vigorous enforcement attitudes expressed via the willingness to crackdown on drinking at the river we will show the same toward people who waste water on their plush green lawns this summer, assuming the drought is still on then.

    Up and about before dawn as I usually am I see many instances every summer of people watering their lawns more than allowable by law. Not that you really have to see their sprinklers on to pick up on what is happening. The evidence is pretty clear from the water running down the street from their houses, not to mention the miraculousness of having a thick, green, beautiful lawn in the middle of August after about 50 cm of rain for the past three months when most everything else is yellow. Green thumb indeed.

    But, here is one guess the political will to take on this issue with these wasteful homeowners will not be there.

  2. Ha.

    I turned off a council member’s sprinkler, that was watering the street on a Saturday, a few years back, when they were debating whether to make the restrictions more flexible.

    So, no, I am not sure the political will to take on the homeowners will be there, either.

  3. I say that because that was the advice I was given by a town employee last year, who went on to say that the town doesn’t have the staff to look for violations.

    However – be neighborly 🙂 We’ve let a few of our neighbors know that we’ve seen sprinklers on at weird hours, or leaking into the street, and I believe for the most part that they honestly didn’t know of the problem (I’m home during the day, they are not.) And quite a few now sport brown lawns in the summer, yea!

    Even if they are knowingly violating the restrictions though, just by talking to them politely and “blaming” a faulty sprinkler gives them a graceful “out” and lets them know the neighbors do notice. As for the hardcore abusers though, I wouldn’t hesitate to call the town. There are a bunch of them!

    This problem of enforcement is exactly why I think the water pricing should be tiered to encourage less use. Right now, water for irrigation is *cheap*, relatively speaking. If we retained the current price for the amount going to general, necessary household use, and then raised rates *steeply* beyond that, I think you’d see a lot less waste.

    Also, the water table is dropping rapidly – if you are interested in tracking it in real time, check out the San Antonio Water System’s site (SAWS). It’s a little scary.

  4. I knocked on the door. Nobody answered. I turned off the sprinkler and went on my merry way. I figured that either this person got the message, when the sprinkler was mysteriously shut off, or I would knock longer and louder next time, and call them in, if that didn’t work.

    I just thought it was comical, in a sad kind of way.

  5. On the other hand, from The Lawn Institute…

    Turfgrass lawns
    Release oxygen and cool the air.
    Control pollution and reduce soil erosion.
    Purify and replenish our water supply.

    A well maintained lawn and landscape can enhance the “curb appeal” adding as much as 15 percent to the value of a home.

    Turfgrass traps and removes dust and dirt from the air.
    2,500 square feet of lawn absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and releases enough oxygen for a family of four to breathe.

    On a hot summer day, lawns will be 30 degrees cooler than asphalt and 14 degrees cooler than bare soil.

    The front lawns of eight houses have the cooling effect of about 70 tons of air conditioning.

    The cooling effect of irrigated turf reduces the amount of fuel that must be burned to provide the electricity which powers the air conditioners.

    Runoff water in urban areas carries many pollutants.

    Turfgrass acts as a natural filter, reducing pollution by purifying the water passing through its root zone.

  6. Hi Justin,

    We have turf grass, and we rarely water. At first, all the San Augustine died, and then after a year or so, native gasses reseeded themselves in our yard. We’ve helped some areas along with a little Buffalo grass seed, but mostly its been a very natural healing of the land. And I use that word deliberately. The San Augustine is like a cancer in TX. Now, to be sure – our lawn goes dormant in the drought and in the height of summer heat, but this winter and spring it was beautiful and green. When you think about it, it is just the opposite of what happens in Northern climes.

    Unfortunately, much as we don’t like to admit it, the days of easy water are OVER; the quicker we admit it, the easier for everyone. Native grasses are the way to go!

  7. Cori,

    Yes, the days of easy water are over because there are more users of water, and we are more aware of that fact. As long as we keep having babies, that won’t change. It will become more politicized with every drought.

    If you water your lawn, you should do it at times that reduces the amount that is evaporated. Water vapor may easily fall back to earth somewhere outside of our recharge zone, but that’s probably not the easiest thing to follow scientifically. We want to keep it here, in our area, right?

  8. Hey Ted, I wasn’t calling you out for turning off a sprinkler : ) I was calling myself out for being harsh in my first post. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

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